More than 1000 women are killed each year by male relatives who believe the victims have dishonoured their families. And hundreds of thousands more are repeatedly abused, mentally and physically, every day.
Women in Pakistan have to live under the weight of a conservative and judgmental society’s expectations of how they should act, dress, and behave. They constantly have to consider what people will think or say before they do anything. The toxicity of worrying about the phrase ‘What will people say?’ lies in the reasons we hide our dreams and desires in a country like Pakistan — not because we believe we have the right to privacy, but because we are terrified of what others will think and the repercussions that will have on society’s opinions of us and our families.
The spirit of this collection lies in my journey of learning about the struggles and stories of domestic violence in the lives of underprivileged women and the communities that charged my thesis in its early stages, and reflecting upon that in my own experiences of growing up in Pakistan. It is an homage to the strength and bravery of the women that continue to live their lives on their own terms, and the ones who fell trying to do so.
This thesis rests on the borders of fashion and art. Garments merge into sculpture as they ignite and illuminate the female body, and symbolize what being a woman in Pakistan is about. I wanted to use casts of my own body as vessels to highlight the strength of the women who weren’t afraid to fight to live on their own terms, but also the fragility that comes with being an outspoken woman in Pakistan. Working on this thesis has made me so grateful that I have the ability and the platform to talk about subjects like these, and it is for this reason that I wanted to display my body, almost as though it were a shield or armor protecting the women that can’t speak for themselves. The accessories in this collection are made from casts of the hands of Pakistani women from underprivileged communities, who shared their stories of domestic violence with me. Their hands are symbols of strength and struggle, and this collection brings parts of their body together with mine, in attempt to make us recognize that as Pakistani women, we all have stories to share, no matter what our background. It is necessary to lend our voices to the women who need it, until the day when they can speak for themselves and no longer be afraid to have their voices heard.